I remember how many times I felt inadequate when I was young: at school, with friends, at university, when I was studying as an interpreter, when I started working, etc.
At the time what would trigger my feeling of not being enough tended to be a social situation, clothes I would wear, not having a car, then not having a cool enough car, living in the wrong part of the city, not going on holiday in a super location, not having a smart/handsome enough boyfriend or even not having a boyfriend at all!
Now thinking about all that it seems so silly but at the time it definitely felt different and it certainly undermined my self-confidence.
What is even worse is that this list of things that would make me feel inadequate was never ending, I am just mentioning few things that are coming to mind now, but I know that if I sat with it for even just few more minutes, that list would double, triple, quadruple and maybe later on I might even find more reasons.
What is remarkable is the fact that something so trivial like a pair of shoes for instance could trigger the same undermining feeling of inadequacy as lack of intelligence would do!
It shouldn’t be that way, but it was and I am sure that I wasn’t the only girl/woman feeling in that way and possibly right now there are millions of girls out there experiencing exactly the same feelings in similar circumstances.
The first thought that comes to mind is that our Western society is quite superficial and has very shallow demands on women, like looking in a certain way, doing certain things that are deemed appealing for a woman, etc. but is it really just because of that?
I doubt it …
The importance of the family environment
I wasn’t certainly born in a family who encouraged me to be myself, just the opposite, in fact I still wonder today how I could possibly find courage to even express myself in that environment where most of the time I was either derided or openly badly judged; I still spoke up my mind though and stood the brunt of it.
I assume that absorbing these types of vibes on a daily basis must have an impact on the long run on one’s own self-esteem, even if one is bold and proud of oneself and, by the same token, also the opposite it is true.
Well, I never had the experience of the opposite, that lovely feeling of being appreciated and cherished for who I was, just as I was, nothing more or less.
I gather that wallowing in that lovely feeling most of the time must have a wonderful boosting effect, especially if one is still in the formative years when one’s mind is still very malleable and open.
Ultimately I don’t really know how it would have panned out, if something had been different, therefore the only thing that I can work with is myself as I am, as a result of all my previous experiences that I encountered through life because of the decisions I made.
When I became acquainted with menstrual awareness nine years ago, I realised that if I had had that type of information and awareness when I was growing up I would have become a very different type of woman and, as a consequence of that, I would have appreciated and respected myself much, much more than I did and I still do!
Yes, I have to admit, it is not something that one becomes aware of and then it is fixed for ever, just the opposite, it is something that one has to work at it on a daily basis unfortunately and it is hard work indeed.
It is worth to do it because it pays back, but it is so easy to forget about it and unconsciously choose to go down the old path of low self-esteem that then brings along the usual unsatisfactory results …
After nine years of work on myself on this front, my self-confidence has definitely improved, but it still gets knocked down now and then.
Let’s look at this process closely for a minute, just for the fun of it and let’s see what happens when it is triggered by something.
My self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth get really wobbly when I see/encounter or read about very successful people, those who apparently have got everything right: the business, the marketing, they are paid extraordinary sums of money to speak at events, they have super cool programs that are online, in person and that reach apparently thousands of people around the world, they have not just one, but possibly even a few best sellers, they have superbly made videos, have done TED talks, they have all sorts of free gadgets downloadable online, etc.
I am sure that you must have come across some of these super successful coaches, speakers, trainers and the rest, as they are so successful and they are everywhere, therefore you must have encountered them too, at some point.
So let’s come back to myself, if I compare myself to any of those people I feel super wobbly and I can’t possibly stand the comparison with them: I don’t have cool programs available online, can’t boast a best seller, not even one, forget few, haven’t reached all these unresourceful people around the world who couldn’t live without my wisdom, actually at times I can barely find some wisdom for myself so forget about sharing it with others!
I should feel inadequate most of the times, sometimes I do, but not all the time, because I have learnt by now that what people may look and claim to be not necessarily is true, therefore as I consider integrity one of my most important values, I only claim what is applicable to my life and, if it is not, I just leave it out.
When I feel wobbly is because I feel scared or I don’t want to allow myself to go into that uncomfortable place called vulnerability where I feel totally naked and seen by the rest of the world including all those aspects of myself that I don’t particularly like and I feel I would rather die than expose them to others and be seen …
The revelation of my dream
What if though going there is not that lethal and instead it might bring me some insights about myself?
I had a strange dream a couple of nights ago, I could see myself in the presence of one of those super cool businessmen/trainers who apparently can transform anybody’s business into a super successful one, as they did themselves previously and so they teach others to do the same.
I can recall my deep feeling of inadequacy just by being there and I started counting all the reasons why I wasn’t in that position yet and I was really feeling my heart sinking in my chest.
At a certain point the sensation was so strong and familiar that I stopped and looked at it for a moment, it was a surreal feeling, as if time stopped and I could just look at my feeling and emotion in that precise moment and dive deep into it. Instead of falling like into a black hole and never come out of it again, I just decided to sit in it until I could be okay with it, bear it and let my fear go.
The interesting thing was that after a while I felt quite all right with being naked and in this position that felt like nothing, well, let’s call it ‘perceived nothing’.
Even if I were the only person on the planet in that position, would it be so horrible?
Maybe it is not as it feels …
Well, the answer is: only if I deemed it so, but in fact if I accepted it, it would be just a feeling like many others that I go through every day, exactly like the moments of the day: they are all different and make the day, but there isn’t one more important than the others, otherwise I wouldn’t have a day, simple!
So I stood there in my wobbly spot and after a while I started remembering all the different experiences that I have accumulated in my life that actually make me who I am these days.
In my heart I started feeling a strange sense of pride that quite surprised me and I wasn’t expecting to find there …
I also remembered at that point that, instead of shutting immediately my eyes, as one does when one is uncomfortable, if I looked at what made me feel like that, I might actually find details that I wouldn’t expect to be there, as often is the case, so why not have a good look at ‘the monster’?
It doesn’t really matter what kind of monster it is, a monster is a monster, it’s like fear, my fear can look so different from somebody else’s, but actually it is the same thing.
What if I exercised a bit more my ’emotional muscle’ of curiosity and endurance and looked more deeply every single time that I felt wobbly?
When I woke up and realised that I was dreaming, I felt definitely relieved, but I immediately realised the value of the message and made a point to remember it next time I am struck by a wobble/curved ball!
It is just a question of time, Life has plenty of those, so I am sure that I will be tested soon, no doubt.
As my motto says ‘Life is an adventure, discover it!’, I will remember to be courageous next time I feel wobbly and look straight into my monster’s eyes.
If you enjoyed reading about my experience, I would love to read from you and find out what are your wobbly moments or monsters; sharing our monsters with one another makes us stronger and more human.
To find more information about my work with women, the female cycle and my women circles please check my website Flying Inspiration.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your monsters!